Monday, July 4, 2016

"PRAY THE LORD TO SEND LABORERS."


Homily for July 5th, 2016: Matthew 9:32-38.

          The brief gospel reading we have just heard is a kind of bridge between the reports Matthew has been giving us about Jesus’ deeds of compassion on the one hand, and his call to others to share in this compassionate care of God’s people. The summary is contained in a single sentence: “Jesus went around to all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the Gospel of the Kingdom, and curing every disease and illness.” The sentence following describes Jesus’ reaction to the needs of those who flocked around him, to hear his words and receive healing. “His heart was moved with pity,” our translation says. In the original Greek the word for heart refers to the inner organs in general. Matthew is saying that Jesus was all ‘churned up in his gut’ at the needs he saw all round him. They were “troubled and abandoned,” Matthew tells us, “like sheep without a shepherd.”

          “The harvest is abundant,” Jesus says then, “but the laborers are few; so ask the master of the harvest to send out laborers for his harvest.” Those are the last words in chapter nine of Matthew’s gospel. Chapter ten, which we shall begin tomorrow, starts with Jesus’ call of twelve men from his disciples, to be apostles.

          We need to take Jesus’ call for laborers seriously. We should be praying often, even daily, that many of our young people will hear and heed the call to serve him as priests, deacons, and religious Sisters. But we need to do more. If you know someone who you believe would serve well in one of those roles, speak to him or her about it. If that is too difficult, then tell a priest about that person, so he can do the recruiting himself. In today’s world pursuing a religious vocation is so counter-cultural that candidates need all the encouragement and support we can give them. Moreover, many young people are just waiting to be asked. And if we don’t ask them, who will?